SAUDI ARABIA DRONE ATTACK
Early on 14 September, the Abqaiq and Khurais oil facilities in Saudi Arabia were targeted by drones, causing the production of 5.7 million barrels a day to be suspended, the biggest ever disruption to oil production. As part of the 24/7 team covering the Middle East, Security Specialist - Rawan Alkhatib, immediately began assessing the security implications for travellers and members in the region.
Despite the Yemen-based Houthi group claiming responsibility, the origin of the attacks remains unclear and an investigation by the Saudi authorities is underway. Shortly after the attack, the US blamed Iran directly and said there was no evidence that it was launched from Yemen. While Saudi Arabia announced the attack was unquestionably sponsored by Iran, officials have not specified where they believe it was launched from. Although we assess that a full-scale military conflict in the region remains unlikely, each new incident or attack will continue to exacerbate tensions, gradually increasing the likelihood for an escalation.
As this complex scenario unfolds, my team and I have been tracking statements from Saudi, US and Iranian officials, monitoring for further disruptive incidents, and monitoring the outcome of Saudi Arabia’s investigation. Our team has also published comprehensive alerts to clients that detail the recent incident and how different possible outcomes can affect the region’s travel security environment. We are working with our clients in the region to maintain updated and rapidly implementable escalation plans.
In order to further strengthen our ability to assist clients and members in Saudi Arabia specifically, our security manager, Brittany Frye, will be travelling to the country next week to test our on-the-ground providers and ensure we’re prepared to assist clients as necessary. She will visit several locations, including the capital Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Jizan, and Abha. Her trip will reaffirm our assessment of the country’s travel security environment.
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